Oh to be here and there

Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular column about her recommendations for a good read and life as she sees it ...

I wish there were two of me (although too much Turkish food has made it look as if there might be) so that one could stay on here, and the other could be in the Wakatipu.

I do want to be home for all the fun that is going on there - I can hear all the sounds of home gearing up for the summer from way over here in Turkey.

Yoga classes are starting up again in the Lake Hayes Pavilion from Monday at 10am, and the new Queenstown Trails are trembling as they wait for all the impatient cyclists to try them out.

John Key is going to be flat out opening them and all sorts of other surprises in October.

But there's loads going on here.

My Turkish teacher and friend is part of a group organising a cello festival in memory of a world-class young cellist from here who died of a heart attack at 28.

Michael and Christine Hill are with us this week and Nuray was over the moon to have such fantastic brains to pick on the subject of setting up and running classical music festivals and competitions.

She knew everything about the Michael Hill violin competition already - I'm always staggered by how much people around the world know about little old Queenstown.

My dear old dad has been trussed up in his Florence Nightingale outfit, playing nursey to my newly bionic mother for months now.

Luckily, my kind sister has flown in from London to give him a break from his arduous task.

He couldn't wait to scuttle off to the golf course, where he played an absolute blinder of 13 under par and no-one was more surprised than he.

Congratulations!And congratulations and happy birthday to Tom Evers-Swindell - our lovely local train expert.

Shame there aren't any local trains for him to be expert about - imagine how brilliant it would be to have overnight sleeper trains to the rest of the country from home!With my time here running out, I am stuffing my eyes and ears full of all the things I'll miss.

Of course, the food and the people, but also the very strange and funny things.

There are loads of shops here that sell ornate velvet and satin suits in small sizes.

They're heavily embroidered and sequinned and they are for young boys to wear when they are enjoying the festivities of being circumcised.

My sister (the same kind one I just mentioned, although this story might make you wonder ... ) had invited her 11-year-old son's friend to come on the boat when they stayed with us in August.

She rang the parents to check if there was anything he couldn't eat, or any other problems.

"Nothing at all, just treat him as your own." She wondered what they would have said had she decided it would be good for him to have had the authentically Turkish experience of wearing one of these suits and getting circumcised.

I've finally managed to get my nose into a Turkish preschool.

We had to go and pick up our skipper's son yesterday as the bus service broke down - even preschoolers take the bus here.

The preschools are very different - we had to put little cloth bags over our shoes to go inside the three-storey building.

There didn't seem to be any garden but there was a smart dining hall which looked very funny with tiny chairs and tables.

The menu would certainly have sent my children at that age into a total tailspin - stuffed chilli peppers and bulghur salad was the offering of the day.

There were masses of dads waiting to pick up their children and they were all so young! Some of them looked as if they weren't long out of preschool themselves.

Our lovely nephew Brian is back in the bosom of his family for a few weeks while he enjoys an enforced holiday getting his United Kingdom visa renewed - I so envy him.

It is always such a huge treat flying back into Queenstown Airport when you are living and working in London. Everything looks so sparkly and bright and just so fabulously familiar.

Mmmm can't wait ... !

A huge thanks to his dad, Max Guthrie, who recommended The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats by Hesk Kestin.

It's set in '60s New York.

A smart orphaned student gets swept up in the whirlwind attentions of a Jewish mob leader who then vanishes, leaving him to manage his empire.

It's slick and funny and VERY well written.

My darling read it as well and is desperate for a sequel.

His criteria for a good book are lots of sex and violence and this book has plenty of that.

The author wrote for Forbes magazine and he claims to have researched this period in American history so thoroughly that it reads totally authentically - even if you were alive (and managed to stay so!) during this time.

- miranda@queenstown.co.nz

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